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Gracie Square Hospital strengthens suicide prevention efforts

Suicide prevention training and risk identification are crucial components of clinical and non-clinical staff training. In an effort to better equip hospital staff with strategies for assessing and intervening with suicidal psychiatric inpatients, Gracie Square Hospital implemented a suicide prevention training program called “ASIST”: Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training and “SafeTALK”: Suicide Alertness for Everybody.

All inpatients assessed as at-risk for suicide received interventions aimed at reducing suicidal ideation and improving adaptive coping strategies. Effectively training unit staff in ASIST/SafeTALK showed improvements in motivation and aptitude and improved patient response to staff efforts, compared to standard treatment. Staff ensure the program is patient-centered and recovery-oriented. Addressing suicide assessment and intervention in an inpatient psychiatric setting proved the feasibility and effectiveness of training clinical and non-clinical hospital staff in suicide intervention and prevention strategies using ASIST/SafeTALK. Gracie Square Hospital was the first behavioral health facility in New York City to implement this program.

Patients who received ASIST interventions were 100% to 150% likely to report favorable responses to suicide interventions than patients receiving standard inpatient treatment, based on responses to a patient evaluation questionnaire. Those patients were also 100% to 115% likely to report that staff validated their suicidal thoughts and feelings and were committed to help. There were improvements in hospital staff’s self-reported motivation, aptitude and effectiveness in implementing suicide prevention protocols, based on responses to a staff evaluation. Due to its success and applicability, the facility is continuing to expand this program throughout the remainder of the hospital.

For more information, contact Michael Radosta, MA, MS, RN, NEA-BC, chief nursing and quality officer, at (212) 434-5308 or mir9044@nyp.org.